The Biggest Losers of Free Agency
*Photo via Getty Images
The dust from the NBA’s free agent frenzy has settled, at least somewhat. Most of the big names have come off the board, and teams have had a chance to sign some of their plan B and/or C free agents.
Many teams improved their rosters by adding players, teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks. Other teams gave themselves a chance to contend by signing their own players, teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets. Not everyone has had the same success during free agency, some teams who needed to get better lost out on big free agents, and other teams lost key members of their team without replacing them or replacing them with lesser talent.
Two teams that had disappointing off-seasons (at least up to their standards) were the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. The Knicks and Lakers were coming off one of the worst seasons in both of their franchises' history, and were hoping for big off-seasons. They both were expecting the big name free agents to fall in love with the history of the franchises and lure of a big market. They were both sorely mistaken, and embarrassed in the process.
The Lakers went after LaMarcus Aldridge and apparently did not impress him at all in their meeting, he was very vocal with his displeasure about the lack of basketball strategy that was brought up. The Lakers were afforded another meeting to try and fix their mistake, but to no avail. They also lost out on DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Love, both players the Lakers pursued.
The Lakers did manage to sign Brandon Bass and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in Lou Williams. They also traded for Roy Hibbery. These additions to go along with the number two pick, D'Angelo Russell, will make the Lakers more competitive next season. But if you are the Lakers with all of your history and Hall of Famer, Kobe Bryant on your side, you have to feel disappointed by how this off-season went. They will have to change their approach in future meetings.
The Knicks made some moves, signing Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and Robin Lopez. These signings will allow them to put a semi-decent product on the floor, but were clearly not the results they hoped for.
For weeks, it was apparently a done deal that Greg Monroe was going to the Knicks, and then in the total surprise of the summer he chose the Bucks over the Knicks. The big market appeal is clearly not a major selling point for players if big name targets are choosing Milwaukee over New York City.
The Knicks also lost out on DeAndre Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge. And to make matters worse, Aldridge cancelled his meeting with the Knicks, figuring it would be a waste of time and not a serious option. Phil Jackson has his hands full trying to make the Knicks competitive in this new age NBA.
Losing out in free agency is not just about getting turned down by players, but also a team’s ability to keep their own players. The Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers were the two biggest losers on that front. Both of them will look very different next season.
The C̶L̶i̶p̶p̶e̶r̶s̶ loss center DeAndre Jordan to the Dallas Mavericks. There had been reports that Jordan wanted to leave because of his sour relationship with All-Star point guard, Chris Paul. The two had apparently had a falling out this season, and when Paul did not come back from his vacation to be at the pitch meeting that was the last straw.
Dallas swooped in and made DJ feel very wanted. This departure leaves a gaping hole in the middle for the Clippers, who are now very limited(cap restrictions) in their ability to fix it. The off-season wasn’t a complete loss for them as they signed Paul Pierce, who will help them on the wing and add that championship pedigree that the Clips need.
The biggest loser of free agency is Portland, they lost four starters of their five starter(one starter via trade), including the grand prize of free agency in LaMarcus Aldridge. They also lost Wesley Matthews to Dallas, Robin Lopez to New York, Nicolas Batum(traded) to Charlotte, as well as losing role player Arron Afflalo to the Knicks.
The Blazers have not done much to replace four fifths of a starting lineup that was a 51-win team and the fourth seed in the West. They have signed forwards Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis and added Mason Plumlee via trade to replace some of the talent they’ve lost.
The only thing the Blazers have going for them is they extended Damian Lillard’s contract for another five years, but the talented point guard isn’t going to have much help around him.